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Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Anticlimactic Much?

I left the house on Monday with an admonition from Rainman to try to be as offensive as possible when asked questions for jury duty.  He was worried about how we could handle the rest of our week, when he went back to work, if I was actually chosen for a jury.  My response to him was that I couldn't lie very well.  He laughingly agreed with me.  I didn't plan to even try to lie, so we would have to see what happened.

And now, rather anticlimactically......I am done with jury duty.

It was brief.

One day.  Actually, half a day.

I didn't get called to serve.

None of us did.

We are just sat or stood around and waited.

I was able to completely read one book and get through about chapter 5 on a skinny little Bible study book.

If the chairs in the jury room wouldn't have been so uncomfortable, it would have actually been a pretty good afternoon!

I even saw somebody from my church at jury duty, and didn't even realize it.

If we still lived in Minnesota, I would have expected to run into a few people that I knew, or that knew my mom, or a cousin, or someone whose wedding I sang at, or someone I went to high school with while serving my jury duty.

But, here in Georgia, I am used to being a stranger.  I am used to not knowing anyone when we go places.  A completely foreign concept in Minnesota.

So, when I saw this person across the room that looked like my friend from church, I pooh-poohed myself and didn't get up and go see if it was her.  (They had us sit in the little pod rooms that were all connected with archways, but were really separate rooms)

Monday night, my friend posted about a parking ticket she had gotten while being on jury duty and I realized that maybe I am more connected down here now than I thought. It actually was her that I saw and not just a look alike.

I should probably start expecting to run into people I know more often.  I am making connections down here.  I will tell you there is a certain sense of freedom when you can go places and not expect to run into people you know.  I haven't turned into any of those "Only at Walmart" memes or anything....but, I have relaxed, because I expect to be a stranger to everyone.  LOL

Anyway.......I was actually a little disappointed when the clerk got on her little microphone and announced at the end of our day, that we had picked a good week to be called because we were being excused for the week.

That was it.  The case had "fallen apart" and we were done. Done.

Nobody got called back to be considered for a jury.  Truly, all 200 or so of us, just sat around, paced, or struck up awkward conversations with people next to us.  A few folks talked on their phones and complained about having to be stuck in the room with us fellow jurors.

I just read.

My friend, Jessica, had given me this book a few years ago.  Yes, I said years.  I had tried to read it when she first gave it to me and didn't  (couldn't) get past the Introduction section.

It is a story of foster care.  My parents were foster parents for, I don't know, 25 or 30 years.  We always had extra kids around.  Always.  Sometimes, it was awesome.  Sometimes, it was weird. Sometimes, when they arrived with cool toys or new Barbies, it was super fun.  Sometimes, it was completely annoying.  Sometimes, it was confusing and scary.  Sometimes I would overhear my mom and the social worker talking about things that the kids had heard and couldn't really wrap my little mind around it.  Sometimes it was just simple stuff like their parents were in the hospital and they really had no other family around to take them in....but, then there were the times where I learned that their parents were in jail.  But, to me, a girl with parents who loved each other and us.  Who had grandparents, aunts and uncles, and cousins galore around who could have and would have taken us in if was just a total foreign concept that these foster kids came from a completely different world than the one I lived in.

My friend, Jessica, has been a foster mom, has adopted out of the foster system and she knows me and my heart for kids.

But, when the introduction to the book talked about a foster child that had been sexually abused at the age of 4....I just couldn't go on reading.  It made me sick.  So, I just set the book on my nightstand...let stuff pile up all around and on top of it....and went on with my life.  For years.

When I decluttered, I could never bring myself to get rid of it, because it wasn't just some random romance novel that a friend was done with and thought was pretty good.  This was different. This was a book that she had said spoke to her and felt compelled to hand on to me.


But, still, it sat on my nightstand for years until the fateful night right before jury duty when I realized that I had NO BOOKS from the library.  I asked my teenage readers if they had anything in their rooms that I could borrow to read.  Nothing.  So, I began to scour the other places in the house where books pile up (there are a lot of them, by the way).  I had read just about all of them already.(time to declutter again)

So, I turned to my bedside table and those little shoes  on the cover were just sitting there waiting on me.

I had forgotten why I had set this book aside years before, until I was trapped with this book at jury duty.  I once again flipped to the Introduction and began to read.  As I got to the part about things that a little girl had been asked/forced to do...I got that same stabbing pain in my belly and, if I would have been home, or had another book to read, I would have set that book down for another few years. Really.

Even though parts of this book where hard to read, I am glad I finally did.

It is written by a foster mom and just tells the stories of some of the kids that have been through her home.  The struggles of dealing with the constant transitions in and out, physically and mentally.  The logistics of bath time and bed time.  The mental stuff of dealing with kids that want to be loved, but have had horrible things done to them and around them, so they don't always act very lovable.  How hard it is for the kids both biological and adopted that stay when everyone else leaves.

Her stories reminded me of things I remembered from my own childhood and the extra kids that sometimes would just be there when I got home from school....or whose little faces would be strapped into the car when mom would pick us up from school.  Sometimes we would get warning and be able to prepare when a new kid was coming....sometimes, we didn't.

The switching around of beds and cots coming out of the closets.  Lending clothes (sometimes grudgingly) to kids who were close in size to us.  Kids who would refuse to wear certain clothing or not want to take baths.  Kids who would talk back to my mom and dad....and us sitting there horrified.....because they seemed to get away with something we never could.

I remembered the time when of one of my foster brothers got mad at my mom and yelling "buck you" after a weekend visit with his mom. I can still remember my mom getting mad, but, calmly washing his mouth out with soap and telling him we don't say words like that at our house.  I remember sitting there at the kitchen table completely bewildered because I didn't understand what "buck you" meant or why my mom was so upset.

I occasionally have thought about my mom and what she and dad would go through as foster parents, but most of the time, I filtered my memories through my eyes, as a sibling to these kids transitioning in and out of our family.  Sometimes they lived with us for years.  Sometimes it was just a day or two.  Sometimes they would be gone for a few weeks or months and then come back to us for a few months.

This book really had me thinking more and more about my parents.  Probably because I am a parent now and filter the world that way.  But, now I took a moment to think about what my mom and dad went through when they decided to be foster parents.  I can vividly remember my mom crying when social services said that certain kids had to go back to parents, partly because my mom would miss them, but partly  because she knew that they were not going back to a safe, loving home....something they had with us.

The decisions (and mental turmoil it took) to say yes or no when the social worker called.  The angst I know my parents felt when they did have to say no to a placement for a child.  The angst when they said yes, because all the routines in the house, all the peace, just might go out the window as soon as this child stepped in. Because, really, you never knew what you were getting into.  Sometimes what the social worker told you wasn't actually 100% accurate.  I know my parents worried what all of this was doing to us, their biological children.  They worried what kinds of things we would be taught by these kids, who had lived very hard and very different from us.  (We all actually turned out remarkably they did a really good job of sheltering us from the worst bits.)

I know my mom has kept in touch with various families of the kids we took in.  Sometimes it is the kids (now adults) themselves, and sometimes it is grandmothers.  Some kids' stories have had happy endings.  Some have not.  Some have ended up happily married with children of their own.  Some have ended up in jail.

It is sad.

It is scary.

It reminds me of the starfish story.  Know that one?

Lessons Learned in Life | To encourage you to keep going. To remind you to be strong. Lessons Learned In Life® Copyright © 2013™ | Page 2:

I am not ready to make any big declarations about becoming a foster parent.  But, I will admit that it has got me thinking....and I want Rainman to read the book.  We will see if it takes him years too.

Boy, I really got off topic from my jury duty, didn't I?!?

Monday, February 22, 2016

Jury Duty

I might be writing to you a lot this week....or, it might be a normal week where I sporadically drop in and talk to you when I have time.

I have been summoned for jury duty.  I report for duty today, after lunch.

I am equal parts interested in how this will all work AND hoping that I don't actually get picked for anything, because we are busy.  You know?

Today and tomorrow will be fine because Rainman is off.


Normal schooling can happen.

Normal drop offs and pick ups can happen.

Normal babysitting of extra little people can happen.


When he goes back to work Wednesday....I am not sure what will happen with things if I can't get out of jury duty.

My bigs have school away from home.

We babysit an extra little boy on Wednesdays and Thursdays.

My littles still need to have school (although the beauty of homeschooling is that we can be a bit flexible).

Even if they don't have "school" this week, they still need someone to take care of them.

I want to do my part in the American judicial system, am I going to be able to do that with my normal life commitments?

Which got me to does anybody stop their own lives enough to help serve on a jury?

I can't be unique in my fear about juggling duties/responsibilities in order to serve on a jury.

Or are juries only comprised of retired people?  Childless people? Independently wealthy people?

I don't know.

I have been told I can bring a computer and that I will have access to wifi, so I may actually get lots of writing done for the next day or so, while I am absent from my normal hustle and bustle of helping run our household.

Or, I will get picked for a jury.

I will keep you posted, I guess.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Whew! Murder!

My big writing project is done and now I can talk about it.

I wrote a murder mystery dinner theater play.

It was performed at my church as a fundraiser.

It was so fun, funny and awesome....if I do say so myself!   Emoji

The whole experience made my head all full of thoughts.  I thought I would spill a few of them here.

First the negative stuff:

1.  Whenever I saw pictures of the performances that people snapped, all I thought am really big, and by big....I mean....fat.

2.  It is really hard to focus on your own "stuff" and feel like you are being  a good mom/wife.  But, sometimes, I really, really wanted to just focus on my stuff anyway.

3.  Nobody from my family - near or far - got to see it.  (My big girls got to see a bit of it, because they were helping as waitresses, but that is it.  Rainman worked all weekend.  D-man, piddled around and didn't get tickets.  My little kids all turned down the chance to come because their other option was having a play date with the pastor's kids.  They picked the play date.  My mom, sisters and all of that family, live out of

Now, the positive stuff:

This was really, really fun, even though......

Writing it took months, because I had to carve out little chunks of time either at a coffee place or in the basement.  I tried to do some writing in my living room amidst my normal life, but I had a really hard time keeping my characters and their quirks straight when I had that many interruptions.  Plus, I couldn't stop tweaking it.  I would think of stuff in bed at night that I wanted to add or change. Honestly, I think I could have tweaked and revised it forever.

But, the deadline loomed, so, I had to, once and for all, finish it and send it to the head of the murder mystery night at my church to see what she thought.  We had set our deadline early enough that if she hated it/didn't like it/didn't think it would work that she still had time to try and find one to buy for their performance

I was so nervous.

I really thought it was good.  Funny even.  At least, inside my head.  But, would other people get it?

She got it and even said she loved it.

We moved to the point where we distributed the script to the members of our church that had agreed to be actors. (The casting process is a very hush-hush, secretive thing.  You don't tell people that you are in the play, or that you were even asked to consider being in the play.  You don't talk about the play.  You don't talk about costumes or the script.  You keep the secret and nobody gets hurt.  You know?) Anyway, the list of people that had agreed to be part of the cast was varied - a judge, a librarian, a pilot, an engineer, an owner of a local company, an interior designer.  You get the idea.  Cool, smart, busy people were going to read my work and pass judgment on it.  I nervously anticipated the first rehearsal.  (Each step I took in this process brought more and more of my insecurities into the forefront.)

Oh my word, Christian people can be funny.  Really funny.

Most of them took the characters from my head and added and embellished and made them just as funny, if not funnier, when they delivered the lines.  A few weren't quite how I pictured them, but it was funny anyway.

And, let me tell you, these people went all out with their personally created costumes.  I had given them ideas of what I thought would work for their characters, but they were on their own for shopping thrift stores in putting their costumes together.  We had fake boobs, fake butts, fake pec implants, fake tattoos, fake piercings, and lots of lots of fake hair.

We had two performances and both nights, I got nervous all over again.  What if people hated it? What if they didn't get my jokes?  What if everyone had the killer figured out before the end?

But, I wasted all those nerves, because people  liked it...even before it was announced that I wrote it. They danced.  They laughed.  They applauded.  Most hadn't figured out the real killer until it was announced.  Whew!

All in all, it was a nerve-wracking to bottom!

Want to see a few pictures?

I even wrote the play so I could have a chance to sing a little too.  How cool is my guitar player in his pinstriped suit and fedora?!?

I was introduced to the crowd after the performances as...."local author".....blah, blah, blah.  I tuned most of the rest of it out.  All I heard was those ever important two words.....

Local author.

I like the sound of that.